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Stabbing/Shooting Pain in left big toe

by Michelle
(Pennsylvania)

I use to have this shooting pain from the inside of my left big toe once in a while. All day today I've been having this same pain and it's driving me nuts. I'd take a picture of my toes but they look fine, they arn't curved , swollen, or red. I have a herniated disc in my lower back that's been affecting my left leg and I guess I'm just wondering if that could be a reason for this pain. The pain is on the tip of the toe on the left side. I also get the pain injections (with steriods) in my back and I wasn't sure if they could have made it worse. It seems to really act up when my feet get cold so I'm confused. I just don't want people to think I'm making this up anymore as there are no visual signs of pain. Have you heard of anything like this before?


Hi Michelle,
Yes, I have heard of this before. You may have a radiculopathy meaning the nerves coming out of the spinal cord are irritated and can cause sensations like you describe.
I do not know how old you are but the fact that cold weather seems to aggravate the condition alerts me to the possibility of vascular insufficiency to the toe which could also cause similar symptoms.
I would recommend you see a podiatrist and get an accurate answer to your problem.
Marc Mitnick DPM

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Sep 23, 2017
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Right and left great toe pain
by: Jean

I have had similar pain as most of you, now I can see that my toe pain, is more than likely related to my back problems. I was diagnosed with pinched nerve, slipped disc that is pressing against the nerve. I have had steriod injections in my back, but no surgery. The toe pain was a mystery to me until now. I also describe the pain as likened to an electrical shock (strong one) along the outer side of my big toe and near the bunion.

Jul 17, 2017
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Stabbing electrical pain
by: Candy

I have moderate scoliosis and also sprained my back and neck in an auto accident 13 yrs ago. I have since developed ridiculopathy that affects my right arm. A couple years ago, I also developed sciatica in my left leg and now I also have a stabbing electrical pain in my large left toe on occasion. I was seeking info today to see if that could be because of the sciatica. Thanks for all of your answers here.

Jun 18, 2017
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Left Great Toe Pain
by: Emily

Thank you so much for people who take the time to answer these questions/comments. This has only happened to me a few times now but honestly, if it stayed for very long I'd be tempted to amputate my toe.

May 22, 2017
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Left Big Toe Pain
by: Anonymous

I believe I am another victim of back and hip problems causing a sudden needle like stabbing pain in my left big toe. I too was being woke up in the night by the stabbing pain and like the previous comment mentioned. It does feel like a sudden electrocution to my toe like someone hit it with a stun gun and then ran off. I have pinched nerves in my lower back and hip/leg area. I have had a deteriorated hip for years and have dreaded The sugery , so I have been dealing with sciatic nerve pain for 20 plus years. But just recently over the last year I acquired the stabbing pain in my left toe, it started at night in bed but now has started in the middle of the day as well.. I guess it's time to find a qualified surgeon to tell me my options.

Mar 28, 2017
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back surgery toe pain
by: d

had back surgery 1986 L4 and L5 S1. in 2015 2nd toe left foot would be painful on and off with brief periods of electrical shock in toe painful when I walked. Had EMG showed nerve root diminished some. I have taken epsom salt baths did not help. I took a jacuzzi bath and put toe by jet and it helped. Did another jacuzzi bath today put toe by jet and managed to get back surgery area by jet. toe improving. I have gotten shots in toe area last 1 1/2 once every 4 months. takes 2 weeks to kick in. that foot seems to get cold. heat does not help pain. Jacuzzi is helping more then anything. Good Luck. I know have horrible this pain can get.

Feb 08, 2017
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This might help
by: Nancy

I had this for about 24 hours. Do not have back problems like some of you and am not diabetic as far as I know. Anyway I took Ibuprofen regularly and then soaked my foot in about a gallon of warm water and 2 cups of epsom salt for 20 minutes. I had a pain or two afterwards but nothing after that. Not sure if it is a long term or if it will even help others but it seems to have worked for me. I only did this once.

Dec 14, 2016
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Toe pain
by: Anonymous

I had a spinal fusion S1-L4 nineteen years ago. Although it was successful, there is nerve damage which left intermittent numbness in my left thigh. More recently, I have developed intermittent numbness in the toe next to the big toe and a kind of quick, sharp pain along the top of the big toe-it kind of feels like a brief electric or static electricity shock. It does come from my back issues and improved somewhat with physical therapy for my back. It reoccurs several times a year for a period of time.

May 24, 2016
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Left Toe Pain
by: Anonymous

Thank you all for sharing--I am not going crazy then. Problem is I have no back pain or disc problem that I am aware of and its not diabetes. Any short term relief anyone know of?

Oct 10, 2015
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Left big toe pain, not always
by: Bill

I had thought that I injured my left leg in April 2015. Got to the point that I couldn't walk at all on my left foot. After having X-rays and an MRI, my own decision, found out that I had a herniated disc. At the end of July, I had surgery on my back and I was fine. I can walk! I haven't had any physical therapy and I have thought that maybe this is the problem. I am a 56 year old male with Diabetes. I have never had gout. I started having this pain in my left toe just recently. In face as of October 7, 2015 this is when the pain kicked in. I don't eat a lot of gout related foods. And I try to stay off the salt as well as the sugar as much as possible. I have noticed though, if I drink more water than I normally do, the pain is less common and less stressing. But, as I walk my left foot coming down to touch the earth still has "the slamming effect". I think that although the surgery was a success, that there is still something else wrong in my back. I will seek a podiatrist about my toe.

Apr 13, 2015
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shooting pain in left big toe
by: J Anonymous

How very reassuring to know that my toe pain is not due to diabetes. I keep on discovering that my disc problems can generate a slew of symptoms. I would never have thought the shooting pain and numbness in my left toe (mine is on the outside) would be caused by my back issues. It's very interesting to know that back surgery doesn't seem to relieve the pain. Thank you all for sharing your experiences.

Sep 17, 2014
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burning pain shooting up left big toe
by: Anonymous

i had an l5-s1 fusion in 2014, it failed to stop the lower back and entire left leg pain i had for appx. 1 1/2 years. i got a second opinion from a neurosurgeon who stated; i had permanent nerve damage at these area's. this burning pain started appx. 1 month ago and is caused by the damaged nerve roots.

Mar 26, 2013
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got my toe pain diognosed
by: Anonymous

I have been suffering from big toe pain for years and it feels bruised and sprained but no v isual sighns except minor swelling, i had an L5 disk repair almost 10 years ago. My doctor and physical therapist both agree my back pain is the cause. i find the day after i am having a pain attack in my big toe i have a pain attack in my lower back and rib cage. so i hope it is a comfort to some that it is not in your head but your back

Sep 20, 2010
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pain in big toe
by: Fran

Thankyou to the people who actually bother to blog these things I have found someone else with this stupid condition I am being woken up sometimes 4 times a night with a pain in my left big toe that feels like a shock i feel like i am being tortured and end up running around the bedroom I am waiting to see a back specialist and didnt put the two things together until now after reading you comments on toe pain I am now thinking it is somethins to do with my back part of my left leg has gone funny (numb) as well

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